Authority, Accountability & Responsibility

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By Yusop B. Masdal


Delegation (or deputation) is the assignment of authority and responsibility to another person (normally from a manager to a subordinate) to carry out specific activities (Blair, gerald 2002). However the person who delegated the work remains accountable for the outcome of the delegated work.

Delegation empowers a subordinate to make decisions, i.e. it is a shift of decision-making authority from one organizational level to a lower one. Delegation, if properly done, is not abdication. The opposite of effective delegation is micromanagement, where a manager provides too much input, direction, and review of delegated work. In general, delegation is good and can save money and time, help in building skills, and motivate people. Poor delegation, on the other hand, might cause frustration, and confusion to all the involved parties.

According to O. Jeff Harris it is an authorization to a subordinate manager to act in a certain manner independently. The delegation of authority is the delivery by one individual to another of the right to act, to make decisions, to acquire resources and to perform other tasks in order to fulfill job responsibilities.

L. A. Allen has defined delegation as an entrustment of a part of the work, or responsibility and authority to another, and the creation of accountability for performance. Responsibility is the work assigned to a person. Authority is the sum of powers and rights entrusted to make possible the performance of the work delegated. Accountability is the obligation to carry out responsibility and exercise authority in terms of performance standards established. It is the obligation of an individual to render an account of the fulfillment of his responsibilities to the boss to whom he reports.

For achieving delegation, a manager has to work in a system and has to perform following steps:

1. Assignment of tasks and duties
2. Granting of authority
3. Creating responsibility and accountability

Delegation of authority is the base of superior-subordinate relationship, it involves following steps:-

1. Assignment of Duties - The delegator first tries to define the task and duties to the subordinate. He also has to define the result expected from the subordinates. Clarity of duty as well as result expected has to be the first step in delegation. 2. Granting of authority - Subdivision of authority takes place when a superior divides and shares his authority with the subordinate. It is for this reason, every subordinate should be given enough independence to carry the task given to him by his superiors. The managers at all levels delegate authority and power which is attached to their job positions. The subdivision of powers is very important to get effective results. 3. Creating Responsibility and Accountability - The delegation process does not end once powers are granted to the subordinates. They at the same time have to be obligatory towards the duties assigned to them. Responsibility is said to be the factor or obligation of an individual to carry out his duties in best of his ability as per the directions of superior. Responsibility is very important. Therefore, it is that which gives effectiveness to authority. At the same time, responsibility is absolute and cannot be shifted. Accountability, on the others hand, is the obligation of the individual to carry out his duties as per the standards of performance. Therefore, it is said that authority is delegated, responsibility is created and accountability is imposed. Accountability arises out of responsibility and responsibility arises out of authority. Therefore, it becomes important that with every authority position an equal and opposite responsibility should be attached. The question is how authority is delegated when decision-making power is vasted in a subordinate by his superior. Clearly, superiors cannot delegate...
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